Sorry, Rome, U.S. Catholics Are More like Melinda Gates

Why does the Vatican still condemn birth control when it saves women's lives and prevents future abortions?

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CARL COURT / AFP / Getty Images

British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and Melinda Gates, a co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speak with delegates during the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, 2012

Conservative Roman Catholics can handle it when non-Catholics oppose Vatican doctrine. But when other Catholics publicly disagree with church dogma and still have the audacity to call themselves Catholics, the hard-liners start pulling fire alarms. So it’s been in recent days as Melinda Gates, a practicing Catholic, prepared to co-host the London Summit on Family Planning. Because the Vatican still condemns birth control, fundamentalist Catholic blogs have been going off like air-raid sirens at the thought of Gates — wife of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, with whom she runs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — promoting contraception as a means of reducing high maternal mortality rates in the developing world.

“Time to Reboot Melinda Gates,” read a headline this week on the conservative website Catholic Online. “Instead of using her vast wealth to promote virtue,” the site said, she “is using her wealth to promote vice … [T]his is not what a ‘practicing’ Catholic does.” Other sites have even called Gates an “evil” woman whose contraception campaign is not only “a blatant attack on Catholic sexual morality” but also an endorsement of eugenics — or racist population control — an effort “to make sure there are fewer Africans,” according to one blog.

(MORE: The Catholic Contraction)

Gates has shrugged off the Catholic right’s wrath, insisting that the London conference, where the Gates Foundation and the British government hope to raise $4 billion to expand access to contraception in regions like Africa, won’t be discussing abortion or population control but rather “giving women the power to save their lives.” A new Johns Hopkins University study, financed by the Gates Foundation and published this week in the British science journal the Lancet, shows that increased contraceptive use could cut maternal mortality in developing countries by a third, not just by lowering unhealthily excessive childbirth rates but also by helping to avoid risky teen pregnancies and reducing unsafe abortions.

Such evidence rarely, if ever, convinces the Catholic fundamentalists, who adhere to the Vatican’s medieval-era insistence that birth control and nonprocreative sexual intercourse violate natural and moral law. But it would be a mistake for Gates or anyone else to dismiss them as a fringe voice on the issue — because while the first world, including the vast majority of Catholics in developed countries, rejects their birth control credo as an extremist anachronism, fundamentalists’ thinking still holds sway over much of the third world.

(MORE: Why We’re Still Catholics)

That’s especially true in many of the Latin American nations I cover. In developed regions like Western Europe, maternal mortality rates can be as low as five female deaths per 100,000 live births, as it is in Sweden. But in Nicaragua, where the Catholic Church can still bully the government into making contraception scarce, it leaps 20-fold to a frightful 100 deaths per 100,000 births — and teens account for 45% of the country’s pregnancies, one of the highest levels in the Americas. Contrast that with neighboring Costa Rica, where birth control codes aren’t legislated from a bishop’s pulpit, and the rate is less than half of Nicaragua’s, at 44 deaths per 100,000 births. The situation is vastly worse in Africa, where maternal mortality is 430 per 100,000 births in Uganda, whose Catholic Church is politically powerful, and it reaches almost triple that in some other countries on the continent.

This disturbs me not just as a practicing journalist but also as a practicing Catholic. I’m a pro-choice Catholic, but I hate to see anything that leads to an increase in abortions, especially unsafe abortions. And that’s exactly what makes the fundamentalist Catholic dogma on birth control not just hoary but hypocritical — what makes this particular sexual morality immoral. It defies human reason, whose conscientious exercise is a central tenet of the Catholic faith, to think that withholding contraception will somehow reduce the world’s abortion rate. Take the heavily Catholic Philippines, where the quasi-omnipotent church has threatened public officials with excommunication if they back accessible birth control. It’s hardly a coincidence that the New York City-based Center for Reproductive Rights reports that more than half a million pregnant Filipino women seek illegal abortions each year.

(MORE: Obama’s Anglican Solution to the Catholic Contraception Problem)

What all this means is that it’s time for Catholics in the developed world, especially the 82% of us in the U.S. who privately tell pollsters that birth control is morally acceptable, to speak up as publicly as Melinda Gates if we believe that the influence of the church is harming women in poorer countries. There is a gross misconception in the U.S. media and the government that the Catholic Church hierarchy speaks for the Catholic Church laity on issues like contraception. It clearly does not — not in surveys, not in voting booths and not in the pews.

And not when it comes, for example, to the Obama Administration’s requirement that religious-based institutions like universities and hospitals provide female employees with access to contraception in their health-insurance coverage. The U.S. Catholic bishops just finished their Fortnight for Freedom campaign to convince the country that the White House mandate violates religious liberty. But they’re having a hard enough time convincing their own flock: polls show almost two-thirds of U.S. Catholics don’t consider the mandate a threat to religious freedom. And that’s largely due, I believe, to the bishops’ grand miscalculation — tying their religious-freedom crusade to a doctrine, the church’s birth control ban, that more than 80% of U.S. Catholics today don’t even agree with.

(MORE: The Separation of Church and Medicine)

Perhaps that’s why, even as fundamentalist bloggers ring their steeple bells against Gates, the U.S. bishops have decided so far to keep mum about her. Perhaps they’re starting to appreciate that what Gates is doing is what more and more of us practicing Catholics do as well.


79 comments
DaniH
DaniH

I guess you would call me a "right wing Catholic", but this kind of article makes me sad.  There is no such thing as a "pro-choice Catholic".  If you do not believe that Christ instituted å church and through the protection of the Holy Spirit, gave that church His own authority to interpret matters of faith and morals, then I respectfully suggest you leave the Catholic church and go somewhere else.  When the Catholic church teaches on matters of faith and morals, those teachings are not merely the OPINIONS of men.  They are the inspired teachings of Christ Himself.  If you don't believe that, then you should study Church history further.  One of the greatest blessings and means of moral freedom I have is in knowing that I can trust the Church to interpret ALL matters of morality.  And when she speaks, I simply know it to be Christ himself speaking.  And I won't argue or question Christ.  

MayadeMaya
MayadeMaya

You said "I'm a pro-choice Catholic". In other words you are admittedly MISLEADING Catholics around the world into grave sin. Contrabortion & contraception IS EVIL. Ghandi once said " As it is, man has sufficiently degraded her for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her. " It's people like you who make me cry in disbelief. You MUST accept your faith as a WHOLE. Choose to follow the truth or Don't. Be Catholic or don't. Right now I'm saying a prayer for your conversion...+

newnews
newnews

Great Article!! The people out there in the Church or anywhere else that seem to think that telling the families in the POOREST PLACES IN THE WORLD, that it's okay to 'be fruitful and multiply" when the children they already have are starving are the evil ones! It is pure evil to disregard one of god's greatest gift's LOGIC and REASON. Let's see, my current child is starving,barefoot and uneducated, perhaps I should have 6 more and compound the problem? Instead, I would want to do everything I can to feed,educate and care for the child I already have, I would want that choice and so do millions of other women.

Some People on this forum have stated that the church's teachings must be taken as a complete package, the problem with this theory is that there are still millions of people that don't follow the church's teachings on marriage and abstinence, etc so to disallow birth control for these people (as well as married woman who wish to use family planning) is Outrageous and stupid.

Thank Goodness Melinda Gates and Tim Padgett have the courage to stand up for what's right!!

Kudos to both of them!!

mefritsch
mefritsch

Humane Vitae is not an infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.  Pope Paul VI went against the recommendations of the Vatican Theologians he gave the task of developing a statement.  The compromise was to issue a document but not to elevate it to the level of infallible. This means that each Catholic relies on the three tools of discernment to guide the decision: Scripture, Church Teaching, and Conscience guided by the Holy Spirit.  Please check the accuracy of my statements by doing research into the history of the process that resulted in Humane Vitate.

BTW, the major reason why I no longer consider myself Roman Catholic is because of the ambiguity of the Church's teachings. The Roman Catholic Church has a deep and abiding history of elevating women and condemning them at the same time based on biological qualities.  If only the Roman Catholic Church would treat all as Jesus did: As a Friend/Good Shepherd keeping company with his beloved.  G-d's love is deeper than chromosomes.

Jackie Chism
Jackie Chism

Mr. Padgett, the reason devout Catholics should be publicly voicing their disagreement with Melinda Gates is the same reason I'm writing to disagree with you.  Today's ill-prepared, uneducated, "a-la-cart" Catholics do much to undermine the church, perpetuate ignorance, and perpetuate misconceptions about the faith.  Instead of continually negatively criticizing the church for its beliefs, which, by the way, HAVEN'T CHANGED IN 2000 YEARS and WILL NEVER CHANGE because GOD IS UNCHANGING and SO IS TRUTH, why don't you take the time to figure out WHY the church believes what it believes? 

     Has it ever crossed your mind that you may be thoroughly uneducated about church theology?  Because, anyone who just goes through basic, childhood catechesis and then stops educating themselves after making his/her Confirmation as a teenager, I can tell you, does not truly understand Catholic theology and belief.  I can tell you that because as a high school teen, I was thoroughly uneducated about my faith.  And, when I didn't understand why the church took the stances it did on birth control, homosexuality, and women priests, I did two things - 1) I prayed and asked God to show me the truth, and 2) I began studying my very complex and complicated faith.  Now, as a person who's been studying Theology for at least 13 years, I can tell you that not only does the church have truth and good reasoning on its side, but I can also say that anyone who hasn't read or studied Catholic Sexuality, Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, books and/or studies on the books of Genesis, Ephesians and the Song of Songs, etc., IS NOT educated enough to form any opinions about the church's stance on sexuality.  Basically, without studying the church's basis for belief, your opinions about its dealings with those beliefs are presumptuous, foolishly assuming, and just plain wreckless.  I'm sure it's safe to say that in any arena of thought, before arguing, disagreeing or forming an opinion, you should first educate yourself thoroughly on the subject.  As a former journalist myself, I can also say that as a journalist, before writing, that is also, actually, your job.    

     As a woman who formally discerned the sisterhood for two years, I can say that I truly believe my faith is a beautiful faith that defends women and their dignity in a greater way as compared to other faiths.  While the church, since it's run in part by people, is not perfect and not immune to sin, its beliefs protect and affirm women and their equal status.  If you disagree, then obviously you haven't read Mulieris Dignitatem by Pope John Paul II.  I mean, after all, we're the only church to truly revere Mary, the Mother of God, and to believe that placing ourselves in her hands leads us to understand and accept her son and God's will the way she did.  I can also say that the church's stance on homosexual relationships/marriage, sexuality, birth control, and female priests are all good and true (don't knock it, 'til you actually learn about it).  And, any member of clergy who preaches otherwise is not only probably ignorant of their own faith (sad, but there are clergy who are), but they're also at odds with God and the church and should no longer be a member of clergy.

     I find it humorous that you defend the writings of St. Hildegard von Bingen, but knock the church of today.  I find that humorous because THEY ARE ONE IN THE SAME.  What St. Hildegard wrote about sexuality and the relationship between man and woman is very connected to JPII's Theology of the Body.  In fact, I wonder if he used her writings in research for his writings/talks.  It's humorous to hear people say our church is anti-feminist when that's impossible because the church, by the way, IS FEMALE.  Jesus died on the cross because he wanted to MARRY US, which is why we know He wasn't actually married and why priests can't be women!  In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as THE BRIDEGROOM.  Why - because WE, THE CHURCH, ARE THE BRIDE!  Why do you think babies in the womb are all FEMALE FIRST, and then, when the chromosomes kick in, we either stay female or grow male organs and become male.  But, in the womb, we all start out as women.  The PHYSICAL REALITY points to the SPIRITUAL REALITY of humans being THE BRIDE OF CHRIST!!!   

     In regards to priests, they sit "in persona Christi," they are the person of Christ to us,

the church, so that they can consecrate the Eucharist (which is Christ

himself) and forgive our sins in confession.  So, they have to be "bridegrooms", men.  Hel-lo, women can't be the

bridegroom, because they're the brides!  KNOW YOUR ROLE and LOVE IT because it's a big part of who you were created to be!  If women TRULY believe they are equal the way they are, then why are they trying so hard to be the SAME as a man?!  If you're trying to fulfill a man's role, then you must think your role is somehow inferior.  We're equal, but different, and God has given me the grace to know that in my heart, which is why I have no desire for women to be priests.  That's not our role.  Our role is to be Mary.  Our role is to be at the foot of the cross when all the men, Jesus' discpiples (except for John), have run off in fear.  Our role is to be so confident in God that we are fearless enough to embrace the worst life has to offer, knowing that somehow it will all bring about the victory and glory of God.  And, that confidence nurtures and "gives birth to" the faith in others around us.  This is why great emperors and leaders entrusted themselves to the guidance and spiritual direction of St. Hildegard and why God chose to speak through her so that her writing would nurture our faith 1000 years later.     

     LEARN about your faith before you persecute it.  To fail to do so would be like knowing the greatest mind of our time lives next door to you, but you never bother to knock on his/her door and strike up a conversation.  It'd be a total waste. 

And BTW, birth control DOESN'T prevent future abortions - it leads to them and therefore, necessitates the legalization of murdering the unborn. If you disagree, perhaps you should read our Supreme Court Justices opinions in the Roe v. Wade case, because that comes from them, not us Catholics. And, artificial estrogen and progesterone are also harmful to women. The first pills were higher in estrogen, but they were KILLING women. So, even though lower dosages left more chance for unwanted pregnancy, they lowered the dosages to "stop" killing women. However, like any poison in smaller dosages, now they're just killing us more slowly.

Rosemary McHugh
Rosemary McHugh

Thankyou for this excellent, well-thought out article on the birth control issue in the Roman Catholic Church.  As a Catholic family physician, I am saddened by the lack of care for women that is exhibited by the leadership of my church.  

There is indeed, I believe, a WAR ON WOMEN by the Pope and other members of the hierarchy, maybe because of the immaturity of these men, and their lack of real life experience with real women.  

I agree with the author of this article, that the power of the Roman Catholic Church in poor countries is a negative influence on the reproductive health of women and must be stopped for the good of women's reproductive health.  

As a practicing Catholic physician, who has spent years in teaching methods of natural family planning, I have come to see that some women and couples adapt to NFP, others do not.  I applaud Melinda Gates for her support of women's reproductive health needs.  Women need to be empowered and protected from controlling dictates from a celibate clergy who have no real life experience of healthy sexuality, in my view.

Sincerely,  Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, Chicago, Illinois

truthisbeautiful
truthisbeautiful

If you don’t agree with the Church’s

teaching on this issue why do you still call yourself a Catholic? It’s all or

nothing, you can’t cherry-pick. It seems to me that the Church's teachings haven't been explained to you, but that shouldn't stop you from seeking to understand.

I highly recommend reading ‘Humanae Vitae’ – a

powerful encyclical letter by Pope Paul VI. One of the sentences that stands out for me is this:

'man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a women, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.'

How very resonant of the society we now live in. If you really want to fight for women's rights then teach men to respect women, don't make it easier for them to view women as objects for their own use.

'Theology of the body for beginners' by Christopher West also gives a good overview of what the Church teaches. 

Once you have gained a proper understanding as to why the Church teaches that contraception is always wrong, you may then try arguing against Her logic. 

I assure you, you won't get very far.

R. Joseph
R. Joseph

Most American Catholics would

find themselves happy in the Old Catholic Church in terms of doctrine.

For instance, the Old Catholic Church regards birth control as a

personal choice, not church doctrine. The best way to effect change in

the Roman Catholic Church is to let people know about the Old Catholic

Church. As long as they convince you that they are the only

authentically Catholic church around, you will be forced to choose

between your faith and your convictions (and reason). The Roman Catholic

Church considers the Old Catholic Church legitimate with valid

Sacraments and Apostolic Succession, they just don't want you to know we

exist so they can keep you controlled. Find out more about Old Catholics http://kogcc.net/index.php?p=1...

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

The problem isn't whether God is real or even whether Christ is real.

The problem is that the church is made up of people and it's a really long stretch to think that any single human is especially informed by God as to the correct manner of doing things.

The Catholic church has an idol they call the Pope.

Get over it!

pmb65
pmb65

People like to criticize Church teaching by examining one part of its teaching in situations where the other parts are not being followed.  In third world countries, and more developed countries alike, you have lots of teenagers having sex, and lots of people in general having sex outside of marriage and outside of situations where they can have a child.  It's like managing an animal population, because the people just do whatever they feel like doing whenever they get the urge.  Then they say boo on the Church for not allowing contraceptives.  But there are some people who get it right -- they keep sex within marriage, and God, and prayer, and faith play a role in their lives.  The Church continues to point the way to that ideal.  People have to take all the Church teaching together, and, of course, few manage (or even try) to do so.

ttnorm
ttnorm

Practicing Catholic?  Melinda Gates and Tim Padgett have very little understanding or obedience to Catholic orthodoxy.  Pity she has never read Humanae Vitae.  She might understand the wisdom of the church.  Sorry Tim, Catholic morality on contraception is life centered through and through.  If you arer not seeing that, you are not a practicing Catholic.

Guest
Guest

People like to criticize Church teaching by examining one part of its teaching in situations where the other parts are not being followed.  In third world countries, and more developed countries alike, you have lots of teenagers having sex, and lots of people in general having sex outside of marriage and outside of situations where they can have a child.  It's like managing an animal population, because the people just do whatever they feel like doing whenever they get the urge.  Then they say boo on the Church for not allowing contraceptives.  But there are some people who get it right -- they keep sex within marriage, and God, and prayer, and faith play a role in their lives.  The Church continues to point the way to that ideal.  People have to take all the Church teaching together, and, of course, few manage (or even try) to do so.

Guest
Guest

People like to criticize Church teaching by examining one part of its teaching in situations where the other parts are not being followed.  In third world countries, and more developed countries alike, you have lots of teenagers having sex, and lots of people in general having sex outside of marriage and outside of situations where they can have a child.  It's like managing an animal population, because the people just do whatever they feel like doing whenever they get the urge.  Then they say boo on the Church for not allowing contraceptives.  But there are some people who get it right -- they keep sex within marriage, and God, and prayer, and faith play a role in their lives.  The Church continues to point the way to that ideal.  People have to take all the Church teaching together, and, of course, few manage (or even try) to do so.

Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson

It's difficult to understand why women would want to be a part of Catholicism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam. All of these "revealed" religions denigrate women. Since Christianity and Islam are offshoots of Judaism it's easy to see why they are so anti-women. For example, from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible we see at Leviticus 27:3-7  that the Bible god puts a financial value on people. This is bad enough, but it gets worse! The financial value puts on women and girls is always much lower than what he puts on men and boys. Men between 20 and 60 years of age are valued at 50 shekels of silver while women of the same age are only valued at thirty shekels. 

I was born into a Catholic family and was an altar boy for several years. (Thankfully, I was never sexually molested by a priest.) After reading Thomas Paine's outstanding thought provoking book on God, Deism and religion, The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition, I became a Deist. That is I believe in God based on the application of my reason on the laws and designs in Nature. To me, and to all Deists, the designs point us to our Designer. Because I now truly valued my gift from God of reason, I reject all unreasonable claims, even those made by the various "revealed" religions. 

Progress! Bob Johnson

www.deism.com 

gb1234
gb1234

The church doesn't base its teaching on human opinion polls because God doesn't alter reality to follow human opnion polls.

gb1234
gb1234

Why does the Vatican (and every bishop around the world) condemn birth control?  Because God condemns it.

LeoK711
LeoK711

In answer to the question in the subtitle, it's because the Church as an institution is still struggling to enter the 20th century - never mind the 21st.

Jesus would puke over most of what is done in his name - charitable acts clearly excepted. If Jesus came back today he'd no doubt be crucified again. He might be real, but the church(es) founded in his wake got off track in representing him more than a millenia ago. Why? Because the church is about power - power over kings, power over the faithful. As an institution, few religions have anything to do with spirituality. They arguably have done as much harm in the world as good.

LeoK711
LeoK711

Yeah, too bad the individuals incorrectly speaking in the name of God are the catholic church hierarchy - a bunch of doddering old men who defend their pervert priests.

Yes, we know that most priests aren’t perverts – but why are the many who are consistently coddled by the church hierarchy?? Infallible my arse. Poisonously fallible !

kimjason
kimjason

Tim Padgett: "When one of you has as grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?" 1 Corinthians 6:1.  As a professing Christian, are you glorifying Christ by your writings? I am not Roman Catholic, but I do not find your posts edifying so that people will draw nearer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

starrydesert
starrydesert

The link to the Hopkins study in the Lancet is incorrect. You are referring to the study by Ahmed et al but the link directs us to another article by Cleland et al. The following is the correct link: 

http://www.thelancet.com/journ...

tfrancis4
tfrancis4

The church took 400 years to admit that the earth traveled  around the sun. Give it another 400 years to recognize that birth control is beneficial to mankind.

Scotty_A
Scotty_A

As a Catholic, I think the current Pope and many of the bishops have been a complete disaster. The religion is supposed to be about helping the poor and not about figuratively trying to stone to death any prostitutes that it may come upon. It is very sad to see what they have done. I don't see the current Pope and many of his fellow henchmen as being real Catholics.

sarah_09
sarah_09

I realize this is in the "Ideas" section of TIME, and that everyone has the right to say how they feel about everything under the sun, but I felt this article was attempting to use personal opinion to invalidate solid Catholic teaching on sex and contraception. Right and wrong doesn't correlate with how many people agree or disagree with it; it never has. So using the idea that most Catholics believe in using birth control doesn't mean it's all of a sudden fine to do so according to their moral code. Despite how "medieval" it may seem. 

Before declaring contraception and birth control the "cure-all", do we even truly know the social consequences of using it?

That it doesn't lower abortion rates:

http://www.1flesh.org/argument... 

That it has led to higher divorce rates:

http://www.1flesh.org/argument... 

That the number of unplanned pregnancies has actually gone up despite birth control's proliferation:

http://www.1flesh.org/argument... 

Mahatma Gandhi said, "Contraceptive methods are like putting a premium on vice. It makes men and women reckless...As it is, man has sufficiently degraded woman for his lust, and contraception, no matter how well-meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her." 

Stewart Platt
Stewart Platt

Do you realize how many hits those maniac websites must have gotten as a result of this? At least 50, which is at least 25x the daily rate. That one site that called contraceptives Eugenics? Sheesh..... now that's what I call crazy. 

klrut
klrut

 I find it intriguing that Catholic fundamentalists ignore Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body that clearly identifies sex as an act to bring a married couple together OR for procreation.  While this statement still affirms sex as something that should be done within marriage (something I personally don't agree with), it does acknowledge that sex for non-reproductive purposes has legitimacy.  Theology of the Body also encourages open dialogue and communication between couples which would implies an appreciation for established healthy relationships and educated couples.  That latter part is part of the issue though - until sex education is comprehensive, scientifically based, and internationally common, we can't keep assuming people of all cultures, races, and socioeconomic statuses will act the way the religious authority deems 'moral'.

bigstretchyawn
bigstretchyawn

Haha! The U.S. Bishops haven't "decided to keep mum about her" LOL - its kinda like me posting here, or the ant currently crossing the road the next town up.They haven't givin' her personal politics a second thought. Or a first thought for that matter.

Yawn.............

Celeste Rothstein
Celeste Rothstein

Why are we still having the conversation that contraceptive users are all sexually promiscuous? Around half the women using contraceptives are either married or in a committed relationship, and are simply using contraceptives to exercise their right to control their family planning decisions so that they, AND any children they intend to have in the future, are healthy.

As for single women, I'm not sure that the availability of contraceptives has a huge effect on their sexual behavior, but it does have an effect on the number of unwanted children in the world.

Perhaps the Roman Catholic church should take care of their own sexual issues before trying to impose judgement on others.

NoVaLB
NoVaLB

Sigh. Another rant against the Church's teaching by a "practicing," "pro-choice Catholic."  Rather than simply dismissing the Church's teachings on artificial contraception with lazy pejoratives like "fundamentalist" and "medieval," Mr. Padgett could have been of much greater service to his readers (Catholic and non-Catholic alike), if he had even attempted to fairly elucidate the Church's *reasoning* behind its teachings. (And yes, there are *reasons*, not just the blind prejudices of grumpy old men.)  For example, he could have referenced Pope John Paul II's profound exploration of human sexuality in his writings on the "theology of the body."  A more balanced piece might also have noted that all of Pope Paul VI's dire predictions in his 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae" (affirming the Church's teachings on artificial birth control) have been resoundingly vindicated in the past few decades -- ,e.g.,  that widespread artificial birth control has led to (1) greater "conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality"; (2) a general decline of respect for women among many men, to the point of "considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion"; and (3) the placing of a "dangerous weapon... in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies" -- see the coercive use of abortions and sterlizations in many nations (China most notably).

Mr. Padgett has the right to express his opinion of the Church's teachings on this matter. But a good journalist -- particularly one who professes to be a "practicing Catholic" -- has a duty to present the Church's teachings fairly, and to grapple with the Church's *arguments* and *reasons* for those teachings, rather than attacking "medieval" straw men. And a "practicing Catholic" journalist should also understand (and make clear to his readers) why the Church's teachings are not made simply by taking polls to determine whatever 80% of the people in the pews believe is right.

brianmc3113
brianmc3113

Other sites have even called Gates an “evil” woman whose contraception campaign is not only “a blatant attack on Catholic sexual morality,” but also an endorsement of eugenics — or racist population control — an effort “to make sure there are fewer Africans,” according to one blog ....

You know, considering there are thousands of Africans dying each day from malnutrition and famine, BECAUSE THEY CAN'T FEED THEIR 8 CHILDREN, I get the distinct feeling that catholics, and their "god," are sado-masochists who seem to enjoy .... and definately encourage .... watching others suffer.  If we had offered better contraceptives and worked harder to change the "every sperm is sacred" ideal, Ethiopia probably wouldn't be in the middle of yet another FAMINE@!

Religious nuts are some sick, twisted hypocrites

Christie Ley
Christie Ley

 I will never understand how a woman allows the Church to tell them what they can and can not do with their bodies.

These fanatical Catholics who adhere to the Bible as the only truth to follow need a wake up call. They live on a planet that is, in places, is bursting at the seams with human beings who are unable to sustain themselves. Would these so called true followers of God rather people suffer sickness, starvation, death?

Michael M. T. Henderson
Michael M. T. Henderson

"...his greatest desire/was a boy in the choir/with an ass like a jelly on springs." That's the second half of a dirty limerick about a pedophile priest. Apparently, the Roman Catholic Church views pedophilia with much less abhorrence than heterosexual love-making without the express purpose of breeding. This makes that church the Taliban of Christianity, with women kept at home, barefoot, illiterate, and pregnant --unless, of course, they are nuns, who daren't get pregnant, and can't be priests because they lack external genitalia with which to torture little boys; that's a prerequisite (and a perquisite) for the priesthood, the bishopric, etc.  Isn't it time for American and European Catholics to secede from the Church of Rome and start their own religion--or join, say, the Church of England?

Palladia
Palladia

Thank you, Melinda Gates, and everyone else who has the mother wit to realize that no population of anything can continue indefinitely to reproduce.

Not only does having only one or two children contribute mightily to the well-being of everyone directly involved, it contributes to putting the brakes on our runaway population.

Thank you again.

kiefo
kiefo

Sorry, Tim Padgett, Time magazine (and ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, CNN, A-Mess-NBC, HBO, Showtime, ESPN, the Washington Post-Democrat, the New York Times-Democrat, the execrable Associated (with terrorists) Press, al Reuters, al McClatchy and every other virulent, militant, uber, ultra, hard and far, far, far, far, far left, fundamentlist, extremist, leftist Super PAC/political advocacy group) but those red-eyed, frothing at the mouth, hysterical, leftist abortion enthusiasts you call "Catholics" (see Ted Kennedy,  Nancy Pelosi, Andrew Sullivan (ANDREW SULLIVAN!)) aren't Catholic.  Got it?

PutresVigil
PutresVigil

@ @MayadeMaya  Seeking truth means allowing evidence and facts to guide your views, even when they lead you to uncomfortable conclusions that you and those you trusted to guide you before may have been wrong. The ban on contraception is one of foolish error, made by an audacious and self serving man who sought to nakedly control the reproduction and bodies of women. To claim otherwise is objectively wrong, I am afraid. Ghandi is wrong. Men in general are wrong. The ancient Jews forbade masturbation because they believed that human "seed" is finite and that to masturbate was to waste it. This is categorically untrue. The act is never as important as the reason and the driving motive behind it. That was one of Christ's ultimate teachings. 

Whether you have the spiritual fortitude to weather the unbridled truth and really dig into biblical scholarship (and not theologionism which is nonsensical and backwards in it's approach) to find the word of God if your test, at the end of the day. Will you face it or cower from it, like the pharisees before you, retreating from it's light into hollow, meaningless tradition?

janipurr
janipurr

You know, married women like to control their fertility, too.  They like to make their husbands happy, but don't necessarily want to have a baby every year.  Contraception is not just about preventing teenage and out of wedlock pregnancies.

pmb65
pmb65

Precisely wrong, klrut.  The Catholic teaching is that there are two aspects to sex -- unitive and reproductive -- and you should never isolate them from each other.

Swiftright Right
Swiftright Right

As a Pro Life Catholic I feel there is no real "reasoning" behind the ban on contraceptives. 

I love how fundamentalist Catholics  fall back on Papal infallibility when it comes to Paul the VI's Human Vitae (sry spelling) But are so quick to attack the doctrines of Vatican II as progressive garbage. 

For none Catholics:

The fundamentalists feel that

Pro life = pro fetus 

Dead Popes rules on banning birth control = good and just

Dead Popes rules on Loving your fellow man, charity helping the poor and sick and bringing the Church into the 20th century= bad

The idea that pro life means pro life from conception to natural death = heresy.

Wonder
Wonder

 And how is it that a hierarchy composed entirely of supposedly celibate men is intended to be experts on marriage and sexuality?

gb1234
gb1234

In other words, if you don't want to give up your cable TV and other creature comforts in order to feed an African, then just kill 'em.  And you call Catholics the bad guys?

NoVaLB
NoVaLB

Might I respectfully suggest that you (and other commenters here raising this same issue) familiarize yourself with the current demographic research and data on the non-problem of "overpopulation"? We have come a long way from the 1970s-era, neo-Malthusian fretting of people like Paul Ehrlich, author of "The Population Bomb."  In fact, the real problem we face today is a too-rapid decline of worldwide birthrates that threatens to initiate tremendous economic, social, and political upheaval. Check out demographer Phillip Longman's 2004 book, "The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What To Do About It", or see here for starters: http://overpopulationisamyth.c... 

To the extent that people in the Third World still suffer from "sickness, starvation, and death," that is due in large part to corrupt/tyrannical governance and the corresponding lack of rule of law, functioning free markets, access to capital and technology, and other necessities of a basically thriving economy and civil society. The good charitable work done in these places -- by everyone from the Gates Foundation to the Catholic Church -- is necessary and useful, but ultimately solving these problems of governance is what's necessary to lift more places out of poverty in the long run.

Wonder
Wonder

delete blah i don't like my comment

Tuathe
Tuathe

Talk about frothing - wipe your mouth its dripping with froth.

u99
u99

Kiefo,

Stuff it.  God assures me they're all Catholic.

elotrolado8
elotrolado8

Who made you Pope?  To determine who is Catholic and who is not?  The point is that it's time to democratize an authoritarian, male run institution stuck in the 13th century or abolish it completely.

ranger99
ranger99

Judge not lest ye be judged.  Or did you miss that part of the Bible?

JPTrinity
JPTrinity

 Your "rant" only solidifies what the great majority of Catholics (myself included) think about this issue, i.e., anyone with an I.Q. above single digits knows that contraception is the moral and spiritual best choice for many people.  Additionally, those people who purport to be the "leaders" of our Church now have about as much credibility and moral standing as Jerry Sandusky.  I do not recognize "pedophile enablers" as leaders of the Catholic Church.

Palladia
Palladia

"Red-eyed, frothing at the mouth" etc. is hardly an accurate description of the people who consider that human contraception is a necessity to this planet.

Do you spend a lot of time in front of a mirror?

WilliamBarnes
WilliamBarnes

But unfortunately, they ARE the leaders. Is it possible that we are witnessing THE END of this corrupt (always has been) religious institution?